Tag Archives: Distraction

Exodus 5-8; Luke 18

My friend for more than twenty-five years died the other week. I listened as his wife spoke in eulogy of his lifetime–told about this man I loved, and shared many things about him I never knew. He had delightful interests, so much talent, and his life story was full and generous and loving and adventurous. How I wished I’d had more time with him–he was truly like a father to me. His life, even in death, continues to inspire me: to live in purpose, on purpose.

The weight of grief, worry, strife and stress has felt oppressive in recent years–these things can take me off course, derail me from life and its purposes. I live in the woods, and find myself wishing I was deeper in the forest, averting my eyes and sometimes my heart from making contact—it feels an awful lot like despair.

I’m not sure if it’s circumstance or the things one tells himself or hears from others, but I hear it in Pharaoh’s voice as he tells Moses, “Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work! Look, there are many of your people in the land, and you are stopping them from their work (Exodus 5:4-5, NLT).”

I can get caught up in the task (of work or routine or stress or grief) at hand, that my focus is redirected into a worldly (small) view instead of a deeper calling and purpose. And whether one places it upon himself, or it’s the voices of those in his life, Kingdom work and purpose can become muddled and muted. Moses and Aaron weren’t distracting the people from their tasks–they were pointing them to it. The world gets it so very backwards, and I fall for it too. Too many hoops, too many tasks, too much people pleasing and accommodating that I neglect the very One who gives me strength, neglect the passions He’s put in my heart and compromise my focus and time until I am weary and worn out. It feels an awful lot like despair.

“Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’”

So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery (Exodus 6:6-9 NLT).

Lord, repeatedly I train myself to order my tasks but to keep my eyes on you. Again. Again. When my focus slips to what’s in front of me, I forget what’s inside of me and what’s ahead of me. The shrill of the ringtone, the chipping away at peace, when I lose sight of you, I become too discouraged too.

I set my thoughts on a Kingdom purpose, a Kingdom focus.

29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, 30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come (Luke 18:29-30, NLT).”

That rich man was disheartened because, perhaps, his (wealth/success/pride/ability) was his real focus, not the inheritance of eternal life he believed he wanted.

Lord, help me to do what I need to do, and let go of what needs to go. I want to walk in truth, and keep my eyes focused on you. Thank you for a friend like David, whose life spoke of intention and inclusion, generosity and love. Thank you for challenging me to see things in a new way, for revealing truths I didn’t see, and for reminding me to seek your Kingdom first.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament

Numbers 23; Psalms 64-65; Isaiah 13; 1Peter 1

Numbers 23 was written for a people prone to squeezing the life out of living. It’s written for me. Self imposed to-do lists are usually far longer than what can be humanly accomplished in one day, and (I confess) are often, how I define success that day. I joke that I don’t want to miss a thing out of life, but then if left to my own devices,  miss what is most important.

My inclination is to do, not to be. My family knows when I am on this train. Once my daughter looked me square in the eyes and said, “Mom, you’re not here.” And she was right; my brain was chasing the next squirrel up a tree. Somehow, I never catch the squirrel.

God knows that this endless doing never satisfies;  He commands his people to STOP, set themselves apart (consecrate) and rest. He appointed festivals and “holy convocations” and warned the people that if they refused to deny their inclinations that they “would be cut off from the people.” Numbers 23:30.  It seems to me that is exactly what I do to myself, when I refuse to rest in God and keep up my futile chase of doing. All this striving is really a fear that God won’t meet me if I stop my talking, stop my doing.

Enter the Word of God to cleanse, refresh and restore:

You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.  ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. the grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ 1Peter 1:23-25

When I stop moving and listen and look, God opens up my heart and does a work within that I don’t understand. His presence fills the restless, greedy places and there is peace:

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it:  the river of God is full of water; you provide the people with grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The pastures of the wilderness overflow. The hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.  Psalm 65:9-13

The Psalmist describes a place inhabited by a people who are following God. On another level, he describes the human heart, when God is allowed access to the land within.

Lord, you know my inclination to go and do, but you call me to come, be still, and enjoy the Sabbath rest you have prepared for me . Forgive me when I have chosen distraction over you. Thank you for your patient, steady call to come and rest in your presence. Thank you for the healing rain of your grace and the joy that springs up within my soul at you goodness. You are mine and I am yours. Amen.

Kathy

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Filed under 1 Peter, 66 Books, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Numbers, Psalms, Uncategorized

Hosea 9-11; Revelation 2

The readings speak of a love turned tepid.

“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” Revelation 2:2-4, NLT.

At the end of a year, I’m still running–to keep up with a course load, to school my kids, to manage a house and other responsibilities, to serve at church, to cultivate friendships, and on and on. A lot of my days are just focused on a moment. I try not to look too far ahead, or linger too far back.

There are words of sexual sin and food of idols, of wrong teaching on one side of the scale, and words acknowledging hard work, endurance, suffering, and faithfulness on the other side. A warning to listen.

I know I’ve been so busy at times it seems like I don’t slow enough to listen long enough to hear. Yesterday, I sat in a heap on the floor and prayed–and not the kind of prayer while I dry my hair and pack up books and rush out the door. I just sat–and realized then it had been a long time since I was so still before you.

“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel?
    How can I let you go?
How can I destroy you like Admah
    or demolish you like Zeboiim?
My heart is torn within me,
    and my compassion overflows.
No, I will not unleash my fierce anger.
    I will not completely destroy Israel,
for I am God and not a mere mortal.
    I am the Holy One living among you,
    and I will not come to destroy.
10 For someday the people will follow me.
    I, the Lord, will roar like a lion.
And when I roar,
    my people will return trembling from the west.
11 Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt.
    Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria.
And I will bring them home again,”
    says the Lord. Hosea 11:8-11, NLT.

He is the Holy One living among (us).

Lord, I want to abide in your presence and listen to you. Whatever idols fight for first place in my life, show them to me. I fool myself thinking that all this busyness is living–I miss you. Help me to be fully present and intentional in my time with you and with others.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Chronicles 7, 8, 9; 1 Corinthians 7:20-40

“I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (MSG)

This group of verses stood out to me in today’s reading, mainly because I have been struggling in the area of family distractions a lot over the past 2+ years since I got married and birthed my first child. At times, when I am feeling as dry as a desert, I have looked back to my past and yearned for what was – an abundance of time to spend in the Word and to pray for hours at a times, corporate prayer and worship, face to face time with my Almighty, silence to hear the still, small voice, etc. I look back on the closeness I felt with my Father, an intimacy that I miss deeply right now. I remember the lushness of that time as if it was an oasis in the middle of a wilderness.

During that time in my life, I lived out of personal experience and belief more based in tangible knowledge and involvement. It was just me and God. I could wrap my schedule around His little finger and had nothing to take me away from spending as much time as I wanted resting and being filled up with His presence. It was a time when, despite the normal fatigue of living life, I always had the energy to give to others from the abundance that I was constantly walking in.

Recently, I have been living in that place of faith in what is not seen or felt. I have to moment-by-moment choose to trust that God is there looking after me, protecting me, providing for me, and loving me in such a way that He would never leave me nor forsake me. I have to believe that when I complete my day-to-day tasks, honor my husband, and care for my daughter as unto the Lord, it is as incense to the Lord in the same way it was when I had the time to worship for hours playing the guitar and making a joyful noise. And as I pray minute-by-minute, I must have confidence that He will hear and answer my prayers as the prayers of fervent woman who could spend the whole day in the prayer room.

Now…don’t get me wrong…I would never want to give up being married to my loving husband, miss out on watching my beautiful 18 month old explore the world that God created with His words, or not have the opportunity to be anticipating the soon-coming of my second bundle of joy. But, what I hope and pray for is the divine wisdom to figure out the perfect balance of those two worlds – my past and my present – to be in an even deeper relationship with my God in the future.

Holy Spirit, thank you for Your grace and comfort. Please, be with me and guide me. Give me the wisdom I desire in how to carve out time for You in my hectic, exhausting, distracted days. I want more time with You. I want more of You. I want my relationship with You to be increasingly intimate. I want to feel Your tangible presence with me all the time. I want to more and more abide in You and You in me. In  Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie, Stateside

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Filed under 1 Chronicles, 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament